Mycle Schneider is a clever guy. He has been fighting reactors longer than i have and at one meeting we had a couple of decades back, someone was bemoaning an announcement that some country was planning on building many more reactors. To which Mycle retorted
We don’t believe anything the nuclear industry says, except when they say they are going to build more reactors.
This comment stuck in my head and as the years went by i watched to observe that it is true. But it is not just anti-nuclear activists who fall for these lines. The media (mainstream and alternative) loves to jump on these pronouncements as well. Like the recent announcement that Russia plans to build 21 new reactors by 2030. If you knew about Russia, you might know that new nuclear construction is highly dependent on oil prices. When oil prices are high, the Russian state has more money and takes on these expensive projects. Oil prices in Europe are currently running around US$90/barrel, which is pretty high. And thus this announcement makes sense.
But when you dig deeper, you see that it is almost certainly not going to happen this way. There is a strange piece of Russia which is not contiguous with the rest of the country (like Alaska does not connect to the lower 48). It is called Kaliningrad.
Russia has dropped over US$1 billion on the Kaliningrad based, Baltic reactor project which it is now walking away from. The Kaliningrad reactors have a nearly guaranteed market. The old Soviet reactor in neighboring Lithuania was closed in 2009 as a condition for Lithuania’s entry into the EU. This left a tremendous supply hole through out this Baltic region. Power hungry Poland is considering reactors, but like much of central Europe is currently buying Russian natural gas. If the Russians are not finishing the Kaliningrad reactor, they are certainly not building a bunch more in places like the Arctic Circle.
Similarly, without much fanfare the Ontario government has just decided to delay indefinitely plans to build two new reactors to replace aging plants there. This story nearly disappeared into the media void. But the story that Canada might sell a couple of reactors to Romania with Chinese financial backing keeps coming up repeatedly. Despite the fact that all that has happened is a letter of intent has been signed. i wonder how many nuclear letter of intents have actually turned into reactors.
The other big media induced nuclear myth is the explosive growth of nuclear power in China and how it should be a model for other countries. What is usually missed in this story is China’s commitment to real renewables is larger than it’s commitment to reactors. China is number 1 in installed capacity in wind and hydro power. While i don’t especially want any reactors build, i would be quite pleased if the US were to prioritize real renewables in the same aggressive way China has.
Don’t believe the promises from highly paid salesmen.
Mycle Schneider and Anthony Froggatt’s master work is the annual World Nuclear Industry Report
i currently live in an interesting place. It is a place where people live together cooperatively, we share things and we basically trust each other. It is a kind of place which the media likes to claim is impossible. i promise it is not.
My first day
i woke up to the sun shining fairly high in the window
i have not gotten a clock for my room
i have mixed feelings about acquiring one
but i have nothing schedule for this morning
Tycho mailed me a color xerox picture
of my head D-locked to the bottom of a bus at a Berlin action
i stuck it up on my wall along with a poem
she wrote about the real Heisenburg principals
and i wonder a bit when i will be a full-time activist again
i threw my wallet into a sticky drawer in my dresser
we don’t use money here
my left pocket felt empty
going thru bags and boxes for other pictures to decorate my new room
(last night, i removed the puppy pictures on my wall -
the previous resident was 6)
i found a key ring with a few keys
i threw that in the sticky drawer
another antique – no locks here
i thought i would weave hammocks for my first work
since we do a lot of that here
the shop was empty
most people had taken the jigs outside to work in the sun
but i wanted to listen to an old Bruce Cockburn CD
from the large hammock shop library
so i slipped one of the many headphones
and did almost an hours work
shuffling my feet to “lovers in a dangerous time”
i e-mailed for the rest of my first official morning as a member
not creditable, of course
E. Europe & New England nuke stuff, fundraising, love letters, the usual
i grabbed one of the many “free bikes” and pedal to lunch
(basically the Am*dam white bike idea, only here it continues)
there is fresh lettuce and strawberries from our garden
(i had forgotten that strawberries actually do taste like something)
i choose the cuscus with broccoli and black beans
grab a glass of milk from our happy cows
i leave the bread and tofu (both of which we make) behind
Hawina and i sit in the sun at one of the half dozen picnic tables and eat
we are surrounded by perhaps two dozen dinners – ages 1 to 70
Sassafras, one of our youngest members,
crawls up onto the table and seems vaguely interested in my strawberries
she is so young, i think it is the color more than the taste which beckons
i play hackisack for a couple of minutes before i split
i have gotten much better since being here
still in the low tier compared to most folx who play here
but respectable enuf for me to feel okay
jumping into the games which spark up
perhaps every other sunny day
i walk down to the courtyard,
because my bike with a basket has disappeared
and while there are others, i have bunch of papers to carry
and there are none with baskets
Deborah is teaching me labor assigning
a complex, elegant and archaic art
which manages to take the requests of almost 100 people
the needs of all of the various business and households
and fuse them together in a nearly all volunteer system
we schedule community meetings and milk moves,
the popular garden shifts and dreaded dish washing
there are requisitions for hot tub dates and pagan sing alongs,
the team constructing the new warehouse,
pillow shop, rope production, sawmill, elderly care
sewage treatment plant monitoring, school bus drivers,
road cleans, health team mtgs, building maintenance, cooking,
recycling, visitor orientations and dozens of other activities
after 4 hours and a dozen notes we are finished
(tho Deborah worked it for a dozen before i showed up)
of the perhaps 300 assignments
only one “serf” shift is unfilled
(this is a kitchen or house cleaning)
almost all volunteer – i am amazed
then i spend an hour teaching Deborah
how to use a spreadsheet
it does not matter that the motivating reason she wants to learn
is so that she can sort songs and performers
for the small library of songbooks
which live in the compost café
our smokers lounge and live music hot spot
we are in the café when Kana shows up with pizza
our cheese, our tomato sauce, crust from scratch
and our former happy cows are ground up on top of it
my vegetarianism is waning here
Kana is a wild old man with a gray streaked father christmas beard
he spent some time in a monastery
i would not be surprised if they threw him out for laughing too much
now he is one of our regular cooks
makes beautiful walking sticks, which Deborah and i sold at a fair
and plays a mean guitar and sings with a gravelly voice
never thought i would appreciate country music
He has come down in one of the 3 or 4 golf carts we have
for people who have trouble walking the long distances around here
while he is delivering the pizza and chatting
Calypso (one of our few dogs)
eats most of his rice pudding which was in the golf cart
there is some chiding and laughing
At dinner small wooden signs mark the pizzas
“No dairy”, “No Onions”, “Meat” and more
i sit at the regular Thursday polyamory discussion
(what i used to call “open relationships”)
the group has been over a dozen people
but dinner did not get promoted this time
so just four of us chat
about the forming regional poly network
and whether it will work on the issues and support
or if it will be more for sparking new romances
Melissa brings up group intimate agreements
as she was part of at another community in NYC
just as the conversation gets interesting
we have to break up
i have a 7 PM movement support meeting
and i don’t want to be late
a video about the School of the Americas (SOA) is shown
(the newest residence has a nice video hall,
where there are movies and some taped tv shows
show three nights a week -
there remains no “live” tv anywhere on the community
one of the handful of prohibitions
which has lasted 30 years)
the short video is compelling
and several communards were arrested at SOA last year
there are plans to go again in November
and to continue lobby work for the upcoming house vote
we spend most of the meeting talking about
which projects we will support with our few thousand dollar budget
which is divided between supporting members activism
and giving money to existing groups
(tho the tax resistance protest we are involved with
gives about $10,000 mostly from Twin Oaks resistors to non-profit groups
but it is separate from movement support).
we cut several requests slightly
but fund most of what was requested,
likely creating a cash pinch later in the year
Marione will do prison trainings for women,
Stevik does tax resistance and gay support stuff,
Ione will meet a conservative rep and bark about SOA
Hawina is interested in the hunger group RESULTS
Nexus wants to go to a conference on communities and space travel
i will drag nuclear issues onto the agenda
we talk about restarting the letter lobby
i mention the success with stopping the FDA’s
proposed “organic food” standard
200,000 letters of protest – some from here
we finish with a quick evaluation
because i am a new member
i can get 2 hours credit for movement support
in the future this will be volunteer time
the movement support creditable hours
are generally dedicated to activities more direct than meetings
i walk thru the darkness back down to the courtyard
for my date with Alex
she is organizing one of the communities conferences
which is just about to start
we talk about using one of the expert outside facilitators
from the communities meeting
to run a Twin Oaks meeting we are having on business planning
she fires off an e-mail and packs up her work
we walk up to her room and decide to lay on her roof
looking at the stars we talk about idealism in the community
i want to take over her job as recruitment manager
and she has some concern about targeting young people
to bring our population back up
(we are down about 15 people from last year)
but most of our chat is more personal
we discuss the rumors
which have started
because we are skipping around together holding hands
but she is tired
so we crawl back into her window
and i realize i have forgotten my Tupelo “serf” shift
so i head back to my residence and clean the house till midnight
with the stereo blasting Ani
i try to decide if these crumpled crayon drawings
are trash or precious child masterpieces
[mostly my art patron side won this tussle]
(one of the reasons i choose live at Tupelo is because it has no “quiet hours”)
it has been a long day
but i am very satisfied
it ain’t paradise
but there are some similarities
Paxus at Twin Oaks Community
14 Bisons in Burma 1998
Stop shaming people who participate in Black Friday. Just stop.
Stop making jokes about the fights, the carnage, the people camped in the parking lots. Stop making comments about how you beat out "a woman with a bowl cut AND a rat tail" on your race to the boots. For the love of Cat, stop posting that fucking Onion article…
Karin wrote: ”I am starting to feel like a person who works too much and has become no fun whatsoever… I need an adventure! A really inexpensive one… One where I won’t be too cold for too long… Anyone?”
Lots of people wrote her back, because she is exceptionally lovely company, but my offer swayed her.
I wrote: “We would scoop you up in Boston on Friday, take you to North Hampton, Saturday NYC (and sleep no more if we can get you in), Sunday in Death City and Monday at the commune.”
And it almost went like that, except traffic and other distractions kept us out of North Hampton and we did not arrive at Acorn until after midnight on Monday.
Just outside NYC, we stayed with Teagan and Arrow, , who were fantastic hosts because along with the comfortable place to stay they were engaging company. Arrow is deep into expanding and developing the TriState biodiesel company he founded and runs. Expansion means the network has grown to 5000 clients from whom they pick up used cooking oil and convert it into vehicle fuel. Developing means they are heading towards fuels grown from algae.
We inspected open source 3 D printers which use almond paste as their media shown off by their not-quite mad scientist friend. We fell in love with Teagan and Arrow’s charming kids Teah and Tria, who made it hard to leave.
Theater is rarely done as robustly as the site specific immersive interactive event called Sleep No More. We wandered this set, pondering the Macbeth inspired performance. The performance also sparked several communications about the next generation of theater. Can we attain a high level interactivity between audience/participants and ensemble staff? Can interactive theater be a creative engine for new urban communities?
There was so much more, but stuff beacons. More later, perhaps.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
The middle history of Thanksgiving is curious. I am not talking about the poorly documented 1621 encounter between natives and colonists.
Thanksgiving as the holiday we know can be credited to the Christian feminist Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale has largely been vanished by the history books, but was an editor, activist, author, autodidact and lyricist. She helped discover and was an early promoter of several great writers including Oliver Wendall Holmes and Edgar Allen Poe. She wrote the lyrics to Mary had a Little Lamb. She edited a highly influenced magazine at the time for 40 years (an unusual occupation for a woman at the time). She also lobbied 5 presidents to create Thanksgiving, ultimately succeeding with Lincoln. Her intention was to create a Christian holiday that was recognized nationally, in this she failed despite Lincoln’s highly pious speech announcing the holiday.
In light of this and a couple of days late, i wanted to laundry list a few things that i am highly thankful for.
High functioning body – somehow with very little sleep and a poor feeding regiment i have energy to do all the engaging things i do.
Exotic and complicated family of choice – I don’t know anyone who has a successful poly family by design from before conception. Perhaps they are out there and i have not run across them. But having more than two parents plus a community is the way to raise a child. And i am thankful that this is what my life looks like.
Flexible and model life in community - My community work scene (like everyone who would like at Twin Oaks and Acorn) is extremely flexible. i can run away occasionally for adventures, i can work mostly on things which i am really inspired by, i can do several different types of work each day and generally do. And i can change my work scene if i tire of what i am doing. This is lovely.
Political freedom to dissent – I have friends who are activists in Russia and Egypt and honestly i dont think i could do it. I could not function with the constant low or medium level fear that i was going to get dragged away and possibly disappear. I have lots of critiques about the US, but it does permit me the broad political freedom i need to be a critic of the state.
Affluent class background and white privileged - at the risk of getting lectured by someone who feels like i don’t understand it well enough or am not doing enough to correct the oppression it represents, i am thankful that i don’t have to worry about being questioned and harassed by every other cop who passes me by or the dozens of other insults afforded non-whites in this often subtly racist culture. I don’t pause before i charge through a ritzy hotel lobby or ballroom, despite my preposterous appearance. I get that this privilege is unearned, i get that it comes with significant responsibility to push back on this oppression, including deep self reflection. And i am still thankful for my station.
Every gift is an obligation. I have a lot of work to do, give my good cards. Work i am happy and thankful to do.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
As much as i don’t like them, sometimes the World Bank has it right. In the early days of fighting reactors we often quoted the WB analysis on why reactors (especially for small countries) don’t make sense.
“Nuclear plants are thus uneconomic because at present and projected costs they are unlikely to be the least-cost alternative. There is also evidence that the cost figures usually cited by suppliers are substantially underestimated and often fail to take adequately into account waste disposal, decommissioning and other environmental costs. Furthermore, the large size of many nuclear plants relative to developing country systems leads to risk of substantial excess capacity should demand fail to increase as predicted. A nuclear investment strategy lacks flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. The higher costs would require large increases in tariffs and could threaten the financial viability of the systems if nuclear power were a significant part of the total…”
“Operating costs must be added to capital costs to obtain final electricity costs. Even with low operating costs, the high capital costs of nuclear preclude their being selected as the least cost alternative under any reasonable assumptions concerning prices of coal and oil. “
“Catastrophic Failures: Both nuclear and hydro plants have only a small probability of catastrophic failure, but some experts point to experience of systems failure in nuclear plants, where the exposure is much greater than in hydro dams (where the safety issue is a structural one). The worst case catastrophe for a nuclear plant is much worse than for a hydro plant because of the long-run health impacts (as at Chernobyl). In both cases, the consequences are borne by involuntary population.”
“The environmental community is therefore strongly anti-nuclear. It emphasizes that the risk is one of involuntary exposure and that the environmental costs are high enough to rule out nuclear power even if it were otherwise economic.”
“Further complicating the issue is a perception of secrecy and lack of candor that characterizes the operation of nuclear power plans. In recent years, a number of accidents have raised doubts in the public mind about the competence of the industry and the safety of the process. Many doubt the credibility of the industry.” From World Bank Technical Paper #154: Environmental Assessment Sourcebook Volume III Guidelines for Environmental Assessment of Energy and Industry Projects by the World Bank Environment Department, April 94, p 83-89
Recently, the World Bank has again said it does not plan on lending for nuclear power plants. This time using the weaker argument that it is not familiar with the technology. Instead the WB is looking to fund real renewables in the developing world.